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Ed Driscoll

network_poster_8-15-13-1

Network’s theatrical release poster.

 

The recent corporate transfer of Alec Baldwin from permanent NBC Saturday Night Live guest host and star of the recently cancelled low-rated NBC series 30 Rock to his upcoming gig as a raving anchor at MSNBC sounds like something out of Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 film Network. Not the least of which because Baldwin’s in-house transfer was preceded by an outrageous homophobic slur, which old media — and not just NBC — worked very hard to bury. But then, there’s very little about television news that Network didn’t anticipate.

Because of the length of time needed for a movie to be both green-lighted, and then produced, few cinematic satires arrive at the apogee of their subject’s power. When Kubrick released Dr. Strangelove in 1964, the Air Force had begun to move away from nuclear-equipped B-52 bombers to a missile-based attack system. By the time Robert Altman had shot M*A*S*H in 1970, President Nixon was beginning to wind down American involvement in the Vietnam War. In the 1980s, films such as Red Dawn and 2010: The Year We Make Contact depicted America involved in future military conflicts with the Soviet Union, even as the latter was imploding. (Thank you, President Reagan.)

But when Network hit movie theaters in 1976, the original big three television networks were at the apex of their uncontested power; newspapers were losing readership, the World Wide Web was nearly 20 years off, and even CNN wouldn’t begin broadcasting until 1980. More importantly, talk radio, Fox News and the Blogosphere wouldn’t come into to play for another 15 to 25 years respectively. There was nothing to stop television’s untrammeled power, and seemingly no way for the individual to fight back.

“It’s Not Satire — It’s Sheer Reportage”

In his 2005 interview with Robert Osborne on Turner Classic Movies, Sidney Lumet, Network’s director, told Osborne that when he and Chayefsky were making their initial rounds on the interview circuit to promote the movie, “Paddy and I, whenever we’d be asked something about ‘this brilliant satire,’ we’d keep saying, ‘It’s not a satire — it’s sheer reportage!’ The only thing that hasn’t happened yet is nobody’s been shot on the air!”

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All Comments   (14)
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It's not causes the left is interested in per se; it is the leverage a cause gives them to take control of everything that is the darling of the left.

Causes are interchangeable. The only constant cause is personal control over the greatest number of people.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Does Rev'rend Al at Most Stupid N' Biased Channel qualify as The Great Ahmed Khan?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whatever was Mr. Chayefsky's political stripe, he was--as George Orwell--intellectually honest. Recall the tirade he unleashed at the Oscars after Vanessa Redgrave had defended the PLO in iirc her acceptance speech. I watched it live & was cheering by the time he'd finished. (Aside: It was most enlightening to observe the audience's reaction, which the camera caught as it panned the assembly.)

_Network_ is as much about selling news as entertainment--Vox Populi, Sybil the Soothsayer, yada). Today's TMZ, etc., the pathetically emaciated 20/20 (initially ABC answer to "60 Minutes"), the true crime news (48 Hours)--all of it sold as news--is testament to Mr. Chayefsky's brilliance to foretell what was to come and his intellectual honesty.

He had much in common with Mr. Orwell:

"Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaked emotion in many cases. During the war it was manifested in the defeatism of the intelligentsia, which persisted long after it had become clear that the Axis powers could not win. Many people were undisguisedly pleased when Singapore fell or when the British were driven out of Greece, and there was a remarkable unwillingness to believe in good news, e.g., El Alamein, or the number of German planes shot down in the Battle of Britain. English left-wing intellectuals did not, of course, actually want the Germans or Japanese to win the war, but many of them could not help but get a certain kick out of seeing their own country humiliated . . . . In foreign politics many intellectuals follow the principle that any faction backed by Britain must be in the wrong." - George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism, 1945.

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”-- George Orwell

"Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers." --George Orwell
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, did I mention "Reality TV"--so called? Mmmm, I guess I didn't. Shall we call Beale getting bumped off on TV the first installment of _Survivor_? Of _The Bachelor/ette? Of _Big Brother_?

If we think in principles, what we're seeing--and what Mr. Chayefsky was dramatizing--is dis-integration, the inability of individuals to exercise their conceptual faculty. We are fast becoming a nation--a world--of anti-conceptual Neanderthals.

"The main characteristic of this mentality is a special kind of passivity: not passivity as such and not across-the-board, but passivity beyond a certain limit—i.e., passivity in regard to the process of conceptualization and, therefore, in regard to fundamental principles. It is a mentality which decided, at a certain point of development, that it knows enough and does not care to look further. What does it accept as “enough”? The immediately given, directly perceivable concretes of its background. . . .

"To grasp and deal with such concretes, a human being needs a certain degree of conceptual development, a process which the brain of an animal cannot perform. But after the initial feat of learning to speak, a child can counterfeit this process, by memorization and imitation. The anti-conceptual mentality stops on this level of development—on the first levels of abstractions, which identify perceptual material consisting predominantly of physical objects—and does not choose to take the next, crucial, fully volitional step: the higher levels of abstraction from abstractions, which cannot be learned by imitation. (See my book _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_) . . .

"The anti-conceptual mentality takes most things as irreducible primaries and regards them as “self-evident.” It treats concepts as if they were (memorized) percepts; it treats abstractions as if they were perceptual concretes. To such a mentality, everything is the given: the passage of time, the four seasons, the institution of marriage, the weather, the breeding of children, a flood, a fire, an earthquake, a revolution, a book are phenomena of the same order. The distinction between the metaphysical and the man-made is not merely unknown to this mentality, it is incommunicable" (Ayn Rand; “The Missing Link,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 38).
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's more if you don't "get it."

"[This type of mentality (i.e., the anti-conceptual)] has learned to speak, but has never grasped the process of conceptualization. Concepts, to him, are merely some sort of code signals employed by other people for some inexplicable reason, signals that have no relation to reality or to himself. He treats concepts as if they were percepts, and their meaning changes with any change of circumstances. Whatever he learns or happens to retain is treated, in his mind, as if it had always been there, as if it were an item of direct awareness, with no memory of how he acquired it—as a random store of unprocessed material that comes and goes at the mercy of chance . . . He does not seek knowledge—he “exposes himself” to “experience,” hoping, in effect, that it will push something into his mind; if nothing happens, he feels with self-righteous rancor that there is nothing he can do about it. Mental action, i.e., mental effort—any sort of processing, identifying, organizing, integrating, critical evaluation or control of his mental content—is an alien realm" (Ibid; “The Age of Envy,” Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, 177)

"This mentality is not the product of ignorance (nor is it caused by lack of intelligence): it is self-made, i.e., self-arrested.

"In the brain of an anti-conceptual person, the process of integration is largely replaced by a process of association. What his subconscious stores and automatizes is not ideas, but an indiscriminate accumulation of sundry concretes, random facts, and unidentified feelings, piled into unlabeled mental file folders. This works, up to a certain point—i.e., so long as such a person deals with other persons whose folders are stuffed similarly, and thus no search through the entire filing system is ever required. Within such limits, the person can be active and willing to work hard. . . .

"A person of this mentality may uphold some abstract principles or profess some intellectual convictions (without remembering where or how he picked them up). But if one asks him what he means by a given idea, he will not be able to answer. If one asks him the reasons of his convictions, one will discover that his convictions are a thin, fragile film floating over a vacuum, like an oil slick in empty space—and one will be shocked by the number of questions it had never occurred to him to ask" (Ibid, 39).

"He seems able to understand a discussion or a rational argument, sometimes even on an abstract, theoretical level. He is able to participate, to agree or disagree after what appears to be a critical examination of the issue. But the next time one meets him, the conclusions he reached are gone from his mind, as if the discussion had never occurred even though he remembers it: he remembers the event, i.e., a discussion, not its intellectual content.

It is beside the point to accuse him of hypocrisy or lying (though some part of both is necessarily involved). His problem is much worse than that: he was sincere, he meant what he said in and for that moment. But it ended with that moment. Nothing happens in his mind to an idea he accepts or rejects; there is no processing, no integration, no application to himself, his actions or his concerns; he is unable to use it or even to retain it. Ideas, i.e., abstractions, have no reality to him; abstractions involve the past and the future, as well as the present; nothing is fully real to him except the present. Concepts, in his mind, become percepts—percepts of people uttering sounds; and percepts end when the stimuli vanish. When he uses words, his mental operations are closer to those of a parrot than of a human being. In the strict sense of the word, he has not learned to speak.

But there is one constant in his mental flux. The subconscious is an integrating mechanism; when left without conscious control, it goes on integrating on its own—and, like an automatic blender, his subconscious squeezes its clutter of trash to produce a single basic emotion: fear" (“The Comprachicos,” Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, 218)
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It is the fundamentals of philosophy (particularly, of ethics) that an anti-conceptual person dreads above all else. To understand and to apply them requires a long conceptual chain, which he has made his mind incapable of holding beyond the first, rudimentary links. If his professed beliefs—i.e., the rules and slogans of his group—are challenged, he feels his consciousness dissolving in fog. Hence, his fear of outsiders. The word “outsiders,” to him, means the whole wide world beyond the confines of his village or town or gang—the world of all those people who do not live by his “rules.” He does not know why he feels that outsiders are a deadly threat to him and why they fill him with helpless terror. The threat is not existential, but psycho-epistemological: to deal with them requires that he rise above his “rules” to the level of abstract principles. He would die rather than attempt it.

“ 'Protection from outsiders' is the benefit he seeks in clinging to his group. What the group demands in return is obedience to its rules, which he is eager to obey: those rules are his protection—from the dreaded realm of abstract thought (“The Missing Link,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 40).

"Racism is an obvious manifestation of the anti-conceptual mentality. So is xenophobia—the fear or hatred of foreigners (“outsiders”). So is any caste system, which prescribes a man’s status (i.e., assigns him to a tribe) according to his birth; a caste system is perpetuated by a special kind of snobbishness (i.e., group loyalty) not merely among the aristocrats, but, perhaps more fiercely, among the commoners or even the serfs, who like to “know their place” and to guard it jealously against the outsiders from above or from below. So is guild socialism. So is any kind of ancestor worship or of family “solidarity” (the family including uncles, aunts and third cousins). So is any criminal gang.

"Tribalism . . . is the best name to give to all the group manifestations of the anti-conceptual mentality" (Ibid, 42).

"Observe that today’s resurgence of tribalism is not a product of the lower classes—of the poor, the helpless, the ignorant—but of the intellectuals, the college-educated “elitists” (which is a purely tribalistic term). Observe the proliferation of grotesque herds or gangs—hippies, yippies, beatniks, peaceniks, Women’s Libs, Gay Libs, Jesus Freaks, Earth Children—which are not tribes, but shifting aggregates of people desperately seeking tribal 'protection.'

"The common denominator of all such gangs is the belief in motion (mass demonstrations), not action—in chanting, not arguing—in demanding, not achieving—in feeling, not thinking—in denouncing “outsiders,” not in pursuing values—in focusing only on the “now,” the “today” without a “tomorrow”—in seeking to return to “nature,” to “the earth,” to the mud, to physical labor, i.e., to all the things which a perceptual mentality is able to handle. You don’t see advocates of reason and science clogging a street in the belief that using their bodies to stop traffic, will solve any problem (Ibid, 43).

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/anti-conceptual_mentality.html

See also: Concepts; Perception; Psycho-Epistemology; Racism; Reason; Tribalism.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nobody is mad as hell...and we sure seem willing to take any more that can be dished out.

Our media is a betrayal farm.

Leftists own the information stream...lock, stock and confiscated barrel.

Tyranny cannot survive an honest media and freedom will not survive a conspiratorial one.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
For some reason, I remembered Chayefsky as being a Trotskyist as a young man, but I'm not finding anything to back that up in Google. His politics were no doubt idiosyncratic; his anti-war script for The Americanization of Emily could as easily been written by a right-wing libertarian as a progressive pacifist. In any case, the scripts for both Network and The Hospital mark him pretty unequivocally as some kind of old-fashioned anti-communist liberal who had no use at all for the New Left. Throw in his sympathy for various Jewish causes and one imagines that he was a big reader of Commentary in the 70s. It was a way-station for a lot of intellectuals in transition.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Should have edited this better. Make it "could as easily have been written by a right-wing libertarian as by a progressive pacifist."
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
In his early years he simply rode the NY subways with a notebook and wrote the dialogue as he heard it spoken by ordinary people. That is what made his work unique.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
When the left rails and rants against something such as dehumanization, totalitarianism, world government or corporatism ii's just a bluff, a lie to conceal their true aspirations. Just as, when they accuse the right of being knuckle-dragging morons, they are simply projecting.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Left is suicidal.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Left is suicidal and immortal. Almost Escherian in practical application.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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